Monday, January 24, 2011

New Year's Dumplings Jiǎozi 饺子

If you know anything about Chinese dumplings or jiǎozi, you will immediately discern that some of the dumplings pictured above are not very pretty. Considering that about half were folded by uncoordinated foreigners, and quite a few were folded by individuals under the age of ten; we rely on your graciousness and good-humor (as our national friends were so generous to give).

Jiǎozi are very common in China and lots of fun to make and eat. On Chinese New Year families come together at the parents' or grandparents' home. The ideal is to have the whole family, consisting of several generations, gathered under just one roof. Presumably, the typical Chinese family will assemble in front of the TV set, in order to see the Chinese program "Chūnjié Wǎnhuì - 春节晚会 - Chinese New Year's Party," (which has been broadcast every year in China for the past 20 years from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.) While watching this show, family members usually prepare jiǎozi together for the next day. At midnight the fireworks start.... The sound and red color serve to drive away the year’s monster, Nián (in Chinese: Year), which annually tormented and devoured the people until they discovered its weaknesses. On the morning of New Year’s Day, the jiǎozi, which were prepared the evening before, are traditionally cooked. Afterwards, the family will gather in order to eat lunch together. However, nowadays, some families prefer going to a restaurant instead of spending New Year’s Day at home. (This section paraphrased from the following article, "How do the Chinese today celebrate Chinese Spring Festival.")

So exactly how does one go about making jiǎozi?

Combine ground meat, vegetables (cabbage,onions, or chives), and flavorings

Pinch off chunks of dough made from flour, water, and salt


Then roll out the dough into small, thin circles

This requires lots of rolling...


Stuffing...


And folding.




Don't forget the garlic for your dipping sauce.

Here's a recipe from tomjazz and recipesecrets.net that comes pretty close to the jiǎozi we made:

Filling:
*1 lb. ground pork (or beef)
*6 T. sesame oil
*2 t. sugar
*0.75 t. salt
*0.25 t. pepper
*0.25 lb. cabbage
*1 t. salt
*0.25 lb. chopped green onions

Skin:
*3 c. flour
*0.75 c. cold water
*0.5 c. flour (to prevent sticking during kneading)

soy sauce
water
vinegar (white or rice)
garlic (fresh, chopped fine, or powdered)
ginger (fresh, chopped fine, or powdered)
small bowl with water for dipping

1. Filling: Mix ground pork, oil, sugar, chop cabbage,salt and pepper until fine. Let sit for 10 minutes; then squeeze out the excess water.
2. Skin: In a bowl, add water to the flour and knead into smooth dough; let it stand for 10 minutes. Roll the dough into a long baton-like roll and cut it into 50 pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece to a thin circle.
3. Combine: Place 1 portion of filling in the center of a dough circle. Fold the circle in half and moisten the edges with water. Use index finger and thumb to bring the sides together. The smooth edge will conform to the decreased length of the pleated edge. Pinch the pleats together then pinch to seal. Place the dumpling on a floured tray and repeat this with the remaining dumplings.
4. Boil: Boil 10 cups of water and add dumplings; gently stir to prevent dumplings from sticking together. Bring to a boil; turn the heat to low and cook for three minutes. When serving, use vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, hot bean paste, etc. as dipping sauces.
5. Serving: Serve the dumplings hot (if you cook them in bamboo baskets you may wish to serve them from it directly at the table) with bowls of soy sauce mixed with red wine vinegar.

Two more really excellent recipes with great explanations can be found here:
JiaoZi (Chinese Dumplings) - she notes that the meat should be stirred in only one direction to help it stick together better. This is also how ours were mixed.
Jiaozi - Chinese Dumplings
We did not wet the edges of the dough in water as mentioned in some of these recipes, but have done so before.

"Chinese dumpling is one of the most important foods in Chinese New Year. Since the shape of Chinese dumplings is similar to ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots, they symbolize wealth." (About.com.... You can read more of this article about dumplings here.)

Gold Ingots by Boo_licious (boo lee)

Happy Eating
&
新年快乐!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spring Festival is Just Around the Corner


Sitting here typing with my electric bed heater turned on; 41 degrees F, gloomy, and gray outside; and my own Southeastern US covered in white; it's hard to visualize Spring just waiting around the corner. But then Spring Festival is the same thing as Chinese New Year, and the new year usually comes in with a bang of fireworks and not a profusion of petals. According to the Chinese calendar, we are about to usher in the Year of the Rabbit. I personally was born in the Year of the Snake; but would have preferred to be a cute, cuddly bunny. The Chinese zodiac is based on a 12 year cycle of the lunar calendar; so if you were born in or after February of 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011; you most likely are a rabbit 属兔子(shǔ tùzǐ). In honor of the approaching holiday, I thought I would share some rabbit images and ideas:




So if you'd like to join in the spirit of the new year, by taking a rabbit ride...


decorating your plants....

Rabbits by Stacey (Swirly Girly)

or adorning appropriate attire....

Bunny Hats by A Turner
A Turner Designs Etsy

Please do! And check out these other incredible bunny creations to delight, inspire, and complement your celebration.

Sweet Rabbit Ring by littlemouse11 Etsy


Rabbit Silhouette Charm & Chain by Charms4You Etsy


Cute New Year's Red Bunny Bracelet by LittlePinkPixie Etsy


Claudette by LCRknitted Etsy
She also has a lovely blog about knitting & life with an autistic son


Clara: an Old-fashioned Bunny by Cynthia Toy - Fairiesnest Etsy
You can enjoy her special magic in blogland at The Fairies' Nest


Raspberry Truffle Bunny Softie by Mommy Lion Etsy


Radical Red Amigurumi Moon Bun by Moon's Creations Etsy


So if you're taking notes...

Pair of Hairs with HEARTS mini journal by FuzzyMug

In the Year of the Tiger (2010), Chinese Spring Festival landed on Valentine's Day. This lunar calendar the holiday begins on February 3, 2011 and ends 15 days later, culminating with the Lantern Festival and another round of explosives. Look who was ready to start celebrating last year...

COOL ... by SOCIALisBETTER

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